Pride Month Celebration
This June, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation takes the opportunity to recognize those who fight for social justice and the equality all New Yorkers deserve. LGBTQIA+ Pride Month provides a time to acknowledge the significant and positive contributions of the LGBTQIA+ community and the impact these leaders have on the social, economic, environmental, and political fabric of our society. At DEC, it is also a time to stand boldly in our commitment to an inclusive environment for all New Yorkers and an inclusive workplace for our staff.
Social justice issues, including those involving human rights for the LGBTQIA+ community, were shaped by moments that turned into movements beginning in the 1950s and in the years that followed. The movement reached a critical boiling point right here in New York in June 1969, when our fellow New Yorkers courageously rose up during the Stonewall Uprising to protest violence and marginalization by fighting for the liberation of the LGBTQI+ community. This movement and many reforms that followed helped change our state and nation by sparking the beginning of newfound freedoms.
The fight for these liberties instilled a sense of pride in members of the LGBTQIA+ community in the following decades through to today. Pride is also significant to many members of the LGBTQIA+ community because of the legacy of secrecy about oneself that has historically derived from fear of violence or discrimination for living their living their lives out loud. Being out and proud is an act of resistance against that marginalization.
Attacks against members of the LGBTQIA+ community, both in the form of policy and physical violence, especially targeting trans individuals, demonstrate that the threats from those who would deny basic human rights are ongoing. According to New York's most recent hate crime report, hate crimes are on the rise statewide (14 percent increase statewide, 89 percent increase in New York City alone), with a particular uptick in crimes against the LGBTQIA+ population.
Fortunately, New York continues its progress in becoming a model for inclusivity and a refuge from recent challenges facing the LGBTQIA+ community. Most recently, on May 10, 2023, Governor Hochul convened a Unity Summit to bring New Yorkers together in the wake of a rising tide of hate crimes and bias incidents. Governor Hochul announced plans for this Unity Summit in November 2022 while signing new laws cracking down on hate crimes. The Governor also issued a proclamation and video message (previous links leave DEC's website) in celebration of this year's Pride Month.
Community-based organizations continue to play a vital role in this fight for justice. NYC Pride (leaves DEC's website) seeks to spotlight the power and resiliency of the community and its allies. The organization's 2023 Pride Month theme, "Strength in Solidarity," highlights the cultural significance of the LGBTQIA+ community, while acknowledging every individual's uniqueness and ability to wield tremendous power when united with others.
In a time when hatred and violence are on the rise, NYC Pride seeks to combat hate and illuminate the good that can and has been accomplished through uplifting and supporting one another.
To continue sustainable, positive change and create a more inclusive nation and progressive world, people, organizations, businesses, and governments must recommit to the foundations of the LGBTQIA+ movement.
DEC remains dedicated to maintaining a workplace where the contributions of all employees in protecting, preserving, and improving the environment and natural resources are valued, and where all residents and visitors can safely enjoy our vast lands, waters, and other recreational opportunities without fear of discrimination.
For further reading about the intersection of LGBTQIA+ people and environmental issues, consider the following (links leave DEC's website):
- Bagemihl, Bruce, and John Megahan. 2000. Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity. Stonewall Inn Editions. New York, NY: St. Martin's Press.
- Goldsmith, Leo., Michelle L. Bell. 2022. "Queering Environmental Justice: Unequal Environmental Health Burden on the LGBTQ+ Community." American Journal of Public Health 112 (1): 79-87.
- Whitley, Cameron T., and Melanie M. Bowers. 2023. "Queering Climate Change: Exploring the Influence of LGBTQ+ Identity on Climate Change Belief and Risk Perceptions." Sociological Inquiry, February.
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